Rudy Rucker on Computation and Death

Rudy Rucker writes:

Speaking of time, how long does a computation continue?. We won’t impose any bound at all. Certain kinds of computation will indeed signal when they’ve arrived at a desired result — for instance by beeping or by printing a result — and then halt in the s ense of no longer changing their states. But there’s a sense in which such computational processes continue after their halting point. It’s just that after they halt they remain in a constant state.

For a computer that’s supposed to calculate a number, halting, is usually viewed as a good thing, but for a living being — which is also a kind of computation — halting has the bad connotation of death. Most naturally occurring computational processes are things that we like to keep going as long as possible.